Saturday, March 31, 2012

10 Toys That Speak To Autism

Toy 'R' Us is partnering with Autism Speaks through the month of April for a fundraising campaign. Since 2007, they have together raised over $12 million for Autism Speaks. As a company committed to children to all abilities, Toys 'R' Us has worked with Autism Speaks to come up a list of "10 Toys That Speak To Autism." These toys are everything from toys children with Autism can play with by themselves to toys that can play with alongside their siblings or other children. A detailed listing of each toy can be  found here.
Simple First Words: Let's Talk, Priddy Books

Cake Decorator Playset, by Just Like Home

Hot Potato, by Fundex
Kerplunk! by Mattel
Leapster Explorer Learning Experience, by Leapfrog 
Light Up Alphabet Apple, VTech
Melissa & Doug Chunky Puzzle
See n'Say The Farmer Says, by Fisher Price
Jumbo Foam Puzzle Textured Blocks, by Imaginarium 
Thomas and Friends Wooden Railway Set, by Learning Curve 
Some extra tips given on how to spread Autism Awareness during the month of April:
  • wear all blue, from your baseball cap, to your blue jeans, all the way down to blue shoes!
  • serve up blue cupcakes, blue cookies, and any other blue treats you might make
  • tie blue bows around trees
  • host a blueberry breakfast for neighbors or co-workers
  • turn your Facebook profile picture or timeline to blue


Autism Books

Autism Speaks and Barnes and Noble have teamed together to create a collection of books that can help families and individuals affected by autism. I have read almost all of these recommendations from Autism Speaks....which ones have you read?

A Regular Guy; Growing Up With Autism, by Laura Schumaker
Thinking Person's Guide to Autism, by Jennifer Byde Myers, Liz Ditz, Emily Willingham & Carol Greenburg
Cowboy & Wills, by Monica Holloway
The New Social Story Book, by Carol Gray
Following Ezra, by Tom Fields-Meyer
be different, by John Elder Robison
The Way I See It, by Temple Grandin, Ph,D.
look me in the eye, by John Elder Robison

Light It Up Blue Campaign

There are many businesses taking part in spreading Autism Awareness for the month of April. I wanted to highlight some of them so that if possible, you can purchase some of these items, or spread the word. All of these products and companies are part of the Light It Up Blue campaign. Be sure to go to their website and pledge your support.
Nest Blue Garden Autism Candle
Nest Fragrances will donate 100% of the net proceeds for this candle to Autism Speaks.
Outift7, creator of many fun apps, such as Talking Roby the RobotTalking Rex the Dinosaur, and Talking Tom the Cat, just to name a few, will be participating in the campaign by providing free in-app Light It Up Blue virtual t-shirts for Talking Tomon both iOS and Android.

HandHold Adaptive, who make iPrompts and AutismTrack, will offer the Autism Track app for free on April 2. This is a powerful, handheld data collection app to help parents, caregivers, and/or teachers track medicines, diets, behaviors, therapies, and report progress to doctors.

The Social Express is an engaging software application for iPad, Mac, and PC, along with Printables, designed for kids with Autism, Asperger's, and ADHD. The software teaches children how to think about and manage social situations through video modeling, enabling them to build social skills, emotional skills, and to develop meaningful relationships throughout life. A special 75% discount will be offered on April 2.

Be sure you grab my button to Light It Up for Autism Awareness on your blog!
the worstest mommy

Friday, March 30, 2012

Etsy Lights It Up Blue

April is Autism Awareness Month and April 2nd, if officially World Autism Awareness Day. To help spread awareness, buildings and landmarks around the world will be "lighting it up blue." I took a peek around Etsy to see what they had...there are tons of items everywhere that advocate for autism and autism awareness, but I was looking for specific items that reflected the "light it up" theme or the "World Autism Awareness Day" theme. Here are some of the items that I found:
Source: via Meredith on Pinterest
Source: via Meredith on Pinterest

Source: via Meredith on Pinterest

Please check out these items and more on Etsy and on my Pinterest boards. Also, grab my button to post on your blog so you can light your blog up blue, not just for April 2nd, but for the whole month of April for Autism Awareness.
the worstest mommy

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Light It Up Button

Please take my button and post it on your will be our way of virtually "Lighting It Up" for Autism Awareness!

the worstest mommy

Light It Up Blue

If you are a parent with a child that has Autism, you have been asked, "But what IS Autism?" The definition of Autism is longer than any person asking that question is willing to listen to. It is a question that many parents have rehearsed and condensed down into a very short explanation, one that works for their child or their situation. I usually base my explanation on who is asking, what the context is, how long I have to answer and if I think they really want an answer or they are just trying to figure out why he is not "normal."

To simplify, think of Autism like a rainbow. Every child with Autism is somewhere within that rainbow spectrum and no two children typically have the same symptoms or the same behaviors. They are their own little hue on that spectrum. 

Along the spectrum, children can be given different official diagnoses: 
  • Pervasive Development Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS) - This is a less formal way of saying not as severe autism. My son does not have this diagnosis, so I am not as familiar with this, but I can imagine the frustration that this diagnosis might bring to a parent. I do not know how much insurance or schools honor this diagnosis...if you are a parent of a child with this diagnosis, let me know so I have that knowledge!
  • Rett Syndrome - This is a rare genetic disorder that occurs only in girls. So far, it is the only one of the autistic disorders that can be medically diagnosed. Girls with Rett Syndrome may have severe challenges with communication and it can profoundly impact their ability to use their hands usefully.
  • Severe Autism - Sometimes called profound autism, or classic autism, or low-functioning autism. People with this diagnosis are often non-verbal and intellectually disabled and may have very challenging behaviors.
  • Asperger's Syndrome - also called high-functioning autism. This is what my son has so this is the type of Autism that I know the most about! With this diagnosis, children usually have normal speech development, but have issues with social development, personality characteristics, and communication. They are often very intelligent but "quirky."
April is Autism Awareness Month and I am planning to write a post every day to help spread awareness for Autism. To help prepare, I wanted to share that April 2, is Light It Up Blue for World Autism Awareness Day. Autism Speaks and Home Depot are partnering up for the second year to shine a light on Autism by selling blue Defiant LED lanterns and blue lightbulbs. A portion of each sale will go to fund research, advocacy, family services, and awareness for families struggling with this disorder through Autism Speaks. The lightbulbs sell for $1.99 and $1 from each purchase, up to $200,000 will go to Autism Speaks. The Defiant LED Lanterns retail at $14.88 and $1 of each, up to $45,000 will go to Autism Speaks. The lantern alternates from white to blue when illuminated.

Last year, the Light It Up Blue Campaign had the support of over 2,000 buildings and landmarks around the world that were illuminated in blue the evenings of April 1 and 2 in an effort to shine light on the growing public health crisis of Autism and Autism Awareness. Please check out Light it Up Blue and see what you can do in your community to help spread Autism Awareness.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Spring Wordless Wednesday

Spring has arrived in our backyard. This is but one of the flowering bushes that is beautiful, but creates an enormous amount of pollen. Most of us sneeze everytime we walk by. How can something so beautiful cause so many problems?!!

April Fool's Day Pranks

Did you realize that April Fool's Day is coming quickly? In fact, it is sneaking up so quick, YOU might be the one getting a trick played on you because you have forgotten all about it! Do not let that happen to you!! I am here to save you with my all-time favorite April Fool's Day pranks!

In our house, I always do food jokes. When you have a child with Asperger's, it is not a good idea usually, to switch around schedules or cereals, or furniture or dressers drawers or stick a For Sale sign in the front yard. So I have always stuck to innocent pranks like the one below...
I had found this recipe years ago in Family Fun and knew immediately I had to try it. It is simply meatloaf (I leave out the egg) with mashed potatoes on top. The mashed potatoes have food dye added to them to make it look like cupcakes.I called my kids to supper that night and they were so excited to have dessert for dinner. They took one bite...Ethan was so mad! Jonah and Lindsey loved it, though! The next year, I made mini-cupcakes for Ethan's class at school. We pulled him out of the room when we passed them around because we knew he would tell everyone the secret. They have always been a big hit at our house!!
Both of these recipes came from the same website and made very similar. With the  Chicken & Dumplings, you use vanilla pudding, with angel food cake cut into pieces with angel food cake on top. The peas and carrots are pieces of taffy. The same taffy is used in the Shepherd's Pie. The meat is really Cocoa Krispie's that have marshmallows mixed with a little butter set on broil for a few minutes. Think these would fool your kids?
This is the winner for us this year…not that the kids know it yet! (Lindsey, if you are reading this, do not tell your brothers!!) I love how this incorporates a family meal along with solving a riddle or puzzle or sort of a play on words which is great for both a child with Asperger’s and a child who is learning how to use descriptive words when telling or writing stories. If you want a fork or spoon, then you better be able to figure out how this means describes them or you are going to eat with your hands or with NO hands!So, tell me what your favorite trick or prank is…what are you planning on doing this year? When I was a kid, I thought I was really going to trick my parents and got up early one April Fool’s morning and moved all the furniture in our living room…the whole day passed and not one person noticed. EPIC FAIL!!! Ever have an April Fool’s Day that totally backfired? I’d love to hear the stories!!

*Be sure to check out my April Fool's Day-Pinterest Board for more ideas! Leave me a comment with your Pinterest username and I will be glad to follow you back!
Classified: Mom

Monday, March 26, 2012

The Girl with the Book and Movie Obsession

As you might have noticed, I am majorly behind in books and movies. Since I managed to get The Hunger Games out of the way, (at least the movie part), when I saw that The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was on Pay-Per-View this weekend, I begged my husband to watch it with me. Now, keep in mind, I knew NOTHING about this movie except it was a trilogy. I don't know how many of you have read these books or seen this movie...especially since it has been out for quite a while, but I am often late to the party.

I have wanted to see this movie for a while because I heard the female lead character was supposed to be have Asperger like characteristics. That was all I knew. This is what I read on Wikipedia - Lisbeth Salander: She is a computer hacker with a photographic memory. She is highly introverted and has difficulty connecting to people and making friends. Due to what is referred to as a traumatic childhood, she is particularly hostile to men who abuse women and take special pleasure in exposing them and punishing them. The male lead character, Bloomkvist, describes Salander as having Asperger's, though others would describe her as having a major antisocial personality disorder. Either way, it fits the story! I have read in several different interviews that the author intended for the character to have Asperger's, but it depends on whether you watch the English version or the Swedish version as to how it comes across.

Yes, the movie has violence and so does the book and you can read about that almost anywhere. I like to focus on the goodies to take from the the adult Happy Meal toy from the movie! Here is what I could find...
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo earrings
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo leather necklace
Watcolor girl from Etsy
...and of course I had to make a collection of outfits for this poor, misguided woman to wear!!

So what books or set of books that everyone else has read or is talking about have you not even cracked open? Just recently, I have been seeing show after show on about this new trilogy called Fifty Shades of Grey. Of course, some say it is great, some say it goes too far. But now, even if I wanted to read it, I would have to get it on my Nook because if someone saw me with the book, there is no telling what people would think and then go tell everyone else! Everyone knows THOSE kinds of friends, right?!!

Craft Blog Hop

This is a blog hop from Randee's Organized Chaos. Come and link up original projects, recipes, or party ideas! Remember to link directly to your post, not to your blog. Be sure to look around the hop at some of the other projects and see your favorites. Be sure to leave a comment....we love to get to know each other!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

My Hunger Games Experience

Over the weekend, I took Lindsey and a friend to see The Hunger Games. I have never read any of the books by Suzanne Collins, was not really aware of the trilogy, and quite oblivious to the anticipating fans towards the opening of this movie. Boy, I totally underestimated the fan base of this group of fans!

On Friday night, Lindsey's friend texted her and said that she was out with her parents and wanted to take her to the movie on Saturday, could she go, and which movie time she wanted. I, of course, would be taking them. (Secretly, I wanted to see the movie, so it did not really bother me!) Good thing we got tickets the day before, because out of six screens, one being an IMAX screen, they were sold out. Plus, our movie theater was packed and we had to sit on the front row! UGH!!!

Now, since I had not read the book, I did not know what to expect. Lindsey borrowed the book on her Kindle the night before and stayed up all night, I think, reading it. She said it might be violent, but it was PG-13, so you never know what that means. But I knew as she was finishing the story before we left, she told me she was trying not to cry so I figured that there must be something mushy or sad so I did grab some extra napkins at the snack counter!

I'm not going to tell you the whole story because you can find that anywhere. I will say that I really liked the story. As far as the violence, I did not think it was that bad...of course,  I was sitting on the front row with my neck at an awkward angle and had to continually scan the screen from left to right to take it all in. So if there was a running scene where someone was chasing, or fighting, I could not really see everything until is was all over. But seriously, my boys have video games more violent than what was in this movie. There were no curse words, which I think is almost worse. Once of the things I liked the most, was the fact that the main character, Catniss (weird name, right?) volunteered herself to save her sister. How many brothers or sisters would be willing to do that. We would hope as parents that our children would do that for their siblings, but would they?

So, I come home and start looking up Hunger Games goodies...
Gale-nola bars
Hunger Games Cookies

Keep Calm Poster from Etsy

Hunger Games Someecards

And I had to make my own set of outfits for Catniss from Polyvore. You can follow me at Polyvore and on Pinterest where I have more Hunger Games related items posted on my Movies board. I follow back, so just leave me a comment and I will be glad to follow back any way you want! And if you have seen the movie too, let me know what you thought of it!

Easter Goodies

Have you thought about Easter treats yet? Do you have relatives that live out of town that you need to send a treat to? Mrs. Field's has some of the best gourmet cookies you have ever tasted! Whether you choose choocolate chip cookies, frosted cookies, or brownie bites, your gift will not be forgotten! Plus, the packaging is so cute and can be used year after year! Look at some of these great selections...
Cracked Egg Box - $19.99-21.99
Happy Easter Carry All - $27.99
Happy Easter Bites Box - $29.99
Spring Bites Basket - $29.99-34.99
Frosted Cookie Easter Box - $32.99
So check out their website and if you decide to order something, be sure to take advantage of this Easter Early Bird Special!!
Mrs. Fields Easter Early Bird Special - 15% Off Sale! Use Code 12EEE. Shop Now!

*This post contains Affiliate links

Ethan and the Diorama

I have had the Blogging Blahs lately...or maybe it is just that so much has been going on that it is simply so overwhelming to sit down and write about it after trying to organize my days around it! But since I had some free time today, I wanted to show you a project that Ethan worked on last week for school.

This is the first school project that Ethan has done for school like this and I really did not quite know what to expect. I actually did not even know he had a project was only because he told me that he had no homework, which I found mildly suspicious, so I went through his bookbag. I noticed that his homework folder was falling apart, so I decided to get rid of all the old papers and get him a new folder. I noticed one paper that described an animal project and started to question Ethan about it. Of course, most of the information was not in his folder and he seemed to not be able to tell me what I wanted to know. I emailed his teacher and found it that the project was due on Friday (this was on Monday) and that Ethan wanted to do a diorama of a squid. Other kids were doing power point presentations, some were just doing posters, they just had to do something.

When I talked to Ethan, he seemed to have it all planned out in his head, but had absolutely no idea how to carry it out. So, I helped him find a shoebox...but he could not figure out what to do with the background. He knew he wanted a squid and a submarine, but didn't know how to make a submarine. I found online how to make a submarine with toilet paper rolls, so he did that...with plastic egg halfs glued on each end. The two pieces were taped together and then spray painted.

The next day, the Hubs and I ran over to Hobby Lobby to find some spray paint or something that would be appropriate for the background of the bottom of the sea. Low and behold, there is a whole section there dedicated to diorama's!! Who knew that you could actually buy everything you needed, from the box you put it in, down to the little forest trees! Things have come a long way since I was in school!! All we picked up was some spray paint and a plaster kit to make pretend rocks.

When Ethan came home, we made the little plaster rocks...which was a very simple kit, by the way. It came in it's on little kit to mess, no fuss, it even has it's own little stirrer. After it dried, there were paints that came with the kit and Ethan and Jonah went to town painting the rocks a multitude of "ocean-type" colors.

The next day, while the kids were at school, the Hubs spray painted the inside of the box...making it look like the depths of the ocean, along with the rocky bottom. When Ethan got home, they started to assemble the box: gluing the rocks on the bottom; attaching the submarine to the box with a stick; and delicately placing his squid on top of the submarine. The last touch Ethan wanted to add was a red star on the submarine. Details, I guess!

He was very nervous taking it to school the next morning. Worried that something was going to fall off was top of his concerns. After talking him through problem solving steps, he seemed more confident and he was on his way. When he got home, he said that as soon as he got in the van of the mom we carpool with the squid fell off and a rock fell off when he got to school...but at least he didn't panic and just went with it. He seemed pleased with it and happy at his classmates response.

You can read all you want about other children or teens experiences in school doing projects while having autism, or specifically, asperger's...but until you have experienced it first hand, you do not know how it will affect your own child. It seems obvious now that Ethan seems to have clear ideas in his head about what he wants to do or what he wants to happen. But taking the initiative or getting it done without help will be an issue. We found out Friday afternoon that along with the diorama, he was also supposed to write up facts about the animal he was presenting...but because he never brought home all the paperwork, we never knew that. Luckily, his IEP allows for modified work and I have a good relationship with his teacher so I am sure she will not count him off for that. Plus, Ethan knows all the facts about a squid, he just did not have them written down. It is just another one of those learning moments when you have a child with a special need.